Regulation keeps moving forward
With the global egaming market continuing to experience exponential growth, governments around the world are recognising the need for proper regulation, developing frameworks to balance the demands of
But it’s not all plain sailing. While common regulatory standards appear obvious, deep rooted cultural, political, social and economic nuances affect the approach of each jurisdiction. Of course, a best practice, fit for purpose regulatory framework is the shared goal, but the journey to achieving it is complex, with each market facing its own unique hurdles.
In recent times, encouraging progress in egaming regulation across Asia, Africa, Latin America and the US, has been countered with significant challenges across the regulated space in the UK and EU countries, where tightening regulations and tax increases are putting mounting pressure on operators. As such, businesses are assessing the potential of new markets.
Asia has long been on the radar, offering an abundance of opportunity for those brave enough to take the risk. No other market offers such diversity in regulation though, with uncertainty prevailing and the potential for extreme governmental U-turns at any given moment. Each Asian country has its own approach and recent months have seen an increased caution in this volatile space.
Latin America is making progress year on year, but there’s still a way to go. With Columbia, Brazil and Argentina taking strides towards full regulation (and only Columbia currently achieving it) and other countries following, there’s certainly an upward trajectory of regulatory interest and activity.
Likewise, Africa is edging towards regulation with commitment and determination. Several countries are on the cusp of deploying frameworks, while others already permit land-based and online gambling in some form. When widespread regulation does arrive in Africa, the opportunity for established operators will be huge, providing the groundwork has been done to navigate the market’s logistical and technical challenges.
All eyes have been on the US since the repeal of PASPA in 2018 with reports predicting the US will become one of the world’s largest regulated sports betting markets by 2024. While regulators in individual states decide what approach to take, operators are already poised to take advantage of the massive potential on offer. The challenge for them – as well as navigating the state and federal requirements and obstacles – will be to attract and retain the interest of such a diverse market.
It’s the relatively new contender, India, which has been garnering the most enthusiasm for 2019. The Indian market is vast - a population of 1.3 billion with over half under the age of 35, 700 million mobile users with increasing access to affordable data – and has long had a great propensity to wager, especially on its much-loved national sports. Conservative estimates put India’s online gaming industry value at £1bn by 2021.
It’s India which seems to offer up the greatest potential for those looking to diversify, although from a regulatory standpoint, it comes with its own challenges.
Gambling is illegal in India with the exception of horse racing, lotteries (regulated separately) and games of ‘mere skill’, which are permitted, but are currently unregulated by central government. It’s within the realm of these games of skill (those where a preponderance of skill over chance can be proven) where operators providing Rummy, Poker and Fantasy Sports games are already thriving in this sophisticated market.
The appetite for regulation in India is evident, with businesses already self-regulating by adopting codes of best practice from industry-led federations. The government is moving towards sustainable regulation, developing an infrastructure that adopts global best practice and meets the demands of both operators and consumers.
The market for online gaming is immense, and widespread regulation is coming, opening doors to new markets with untapped potential. As a globally reaching regulator, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission is assisting operators and suppliers looking to enter new markets safely, while also collaborating with the relevant decision makers and authorities in each jurisdiction in order to assist the development of fit for purpose frameworks.
As proven in India, the value of a regulation mindset, regardless of governmental obligation, is immeasurable. Those who demonstrate a commitment to best practice and adopting globally recognised standards will reap the rewards, wherever they chose to operate.
This article first appeared in Gambling Insider, July/Aug 2019